In the summer of 1972

We took a vacation to Florida.

My father mentioned the separate bathrooms.

My brother, sitting on the beach with his bucket

And shovel, got sunburned so bad

We had to take him to the hospital,

His back a field of blisters.


By the time I was ten

I didn’t understand what Walter Cronkite

Was telling the country, but I sensed

My parents’ worry as they listened

To the television or waited for a letter.


Once I felt sick to my stomach at school

And someone, I’m not sure who, drove

Me home with another boy.

He was a black kid, and one of his shoes

Had a lift.  We both lay moaning

In the back seat, and then we started

Laughing, then he threw up,

And we laughed harder

Until he buckled over and was dropped off,

And I watched him walk with the shoe,

The thick sole balancing like a raft in choppy water

To his doorstep, and never saw him again.







Photo by Tantrum Dan